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Language Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening

Latinos who responded to a health questionnaire in Spanish were significantly less likely to have been screened for colorectal cancer than Latinos who answered in English or English-speaking non-Latinos.

When asked on the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) if they had a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) within the last year or a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy within the past ten years,

  • 33 percent of Latinos answering in Spanish said they had one of the screening tests.
  • 51 percent of Latinos answering in English had been screened.
  • 62 percent of English-speaking, non-Latinos had been screened.

Joseph A. Diaz and the team doing the analysis concluded,

Latinos responding to the 2006 BRFSS survey in Spanish had a significantly lower likelihood of receiving CRC screening tests compared with non-Latinos and to Latinos responding-in-English. Based on this analysis, Spanish language use is negatively associated with CRC screening and may contribute to disparities in CRC screening.

SOURCE: Diaz et al., Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, Volume 17, August 1, 2008.

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